Author Archives: naturallyjax

May 15, 2021

For the second day in a row, the two Hooded Merganser ducklings were nowhere to be seen in the Bear Creek Greenbelt.  An adult female was at the pond that never freezes:

Hooded Merganser

So was a Belted Kingfisher:

Belted Kingfisher

I walked over to see the Great Horned Owls east of Estes and was rewarded by good views of two of the owlets:

Sleepy Great Horned Owlets

When it didn’t have its eyes closed, one of the owlets kept its left eye in a squint:

Great Horned Owlets

Mama Great Horned Owl not far away on a tree branch:

Great Horned Owl

Swallows–Violet-Green, Tree, Barn, and Cliff–were patrolling the pond by Stone House.  I saw three Canada Geese pairs with young:  two pairs had three chicks, and one pair had a single chick.  I also saw a couple of American Kestrels, half a dozen Blue Jays, a few Yellow-rumped Warblers, a couple of White-crowned Sparrows, and a Yellow Warbler while I was on that side of the greenbelt.  House Wrens can be heard everywhere.

West of Estes, a pair of Common Mergansers in Bear Creek:

Common Mergansers

 

I also saw a number of Mallards, including seven Mallard ducklings.A little later in the morning, my better half and I rode the Mt. Carbon Loop at Bear Creek Lake Park on our mountain bikes.  The weather couldn’t have been better: in low 60s, a cool breeze, partly sunny, and relatively humid.  Along the trail that runs next to Morrison we saw a hundred or more swallows, as well as an Eastern Kingbird.

May 14, 2021

For the first time in several weeks, we saw a raccoon on our early morning walk in the Bear Creek Greenbelt:

Raccoon

These days Mallard ducklings can frequently be seen in the beaver pond just west of the footbridge.   Sometimes mama Mallard will lead her brood, or part of it, ashore:

Mallard and ducklings

May 13, 2021

Mama Hooded Merganser and her ducklings were in the pond that never freezes in the Bear Creek Greenbelt early in the morning, but they were gone by midday.

At midmorning I caught sight of a few mule deer in the field behind our house:

Mule deer

At lunch I took a quick walk around the greenbelt.

Red-tailed Hawk nestling

Spotted Towhee

Cinnamon Teals (in the pond that never freezes)

After work my better half and I rode our mountain bikes on the Mt. Carbon Loop at Bear Creek Lake Park.  Just as last time, we saw a Lark Sparrow on the ascent up Mt. Carbon.  Also on the trail during the ascent we saw a slender, pale green snake with a pale yellow belly.  Above the Bear Creek Reservoir an adult Bald Eagle, a fish clutched in its talons, was evading a second bird apparently interested in its catch.  Along the Cottonwood Trail we saw mama Great Horned Owl on a branch a few feet above the nest, and the young white owlet sitting high, alone, in the nest.  Finally, we also caught a glimpse of a Yellow Warbler in a shrub along the trail.

May 12, 2021

First Hooded Merganser ducklings of the season in the Bear Creek Greenbelt!

Hooded Merganser with two ducklings

There are only two ducklings in this brood.  Here’s a close-up of one:

Hooded Merganser duckling

They were in pond that never freezes.  A Wood Duck showed up, briefly:

Wood Duck (female)

May 11, 2021

Another look at the Red-tailed Hawk nestling in the Bear Creek Greenbelt:

Red-tailed Hawk

After work, I walked around the east side of the greenbelt.  There I saw a few birds I don’t often see in my usual patch, including a couple of American Kestrels and a Swainson’s Hawk.  I also saw many familiar birds, including this one:

House Wren

May 10, 2021

It’s officially season of the ducklings.  During our early morning walk in the Bear Creek Greenbelt with the dog we saw a Mallard with eight ducklings.  They were swimming along the north bank west of the footbridge.

On an early lunch walk, I again saw a female Mallard with eight ducklings swimming along the south bank west of the footbridge.  But I also saw a pair of Mallards with seven ducklings swimming in the ditch leading off Bear Creek (just east of the footbridge).  And I watched these three unaccompanied ducklings cross the Bear Creek trail to Bear Creek:

Mallard ducklings

With their calls, the ducklings join the voices in the greenbelt–Red-winged Blackbirds, Common Grackles, Northern Flickers, Black-capped Chickadees, Song Sparrows, and Yellow-rumped Warblers.

May 9, 2021

A little after 9:00 a.m., the rain stopped and we took the dog for a walk in the Bear Creek Greenbelt.  I saw my first Western Kingbird and Eastern Kingbird of the year.   The Western Kingbird was on a power line high above a field.  The Eastern Kingbird was on a branch over the south bank of Bear Creek.

And here’s the first shot of the nestling our resident Red-tailed Hawks have produced this year:

Red-tailed Hawk nestling

Later in the afternoon, when there was a break in the rain again, I ventured into the greenbelt, but stopped where the trail crosses over a ditch leading off Bear Creek.  Mama Mallard was there with her ten ducklings.  It was impossible to get all ten in a shot at once . . .

Mallard leading her ducklings back into the ditch

Mallard with ducklings

 

May 8, 2021

This morning my better half and I walked the dog in the Bear Creek Greenbelt.  We saw a male Wood Duck in the beaver pond:

Wood Duck

My better half and the dog turned back home, and I headed out to find the resident Red-tailed Hawks.  On the way, I saw a couple of other birds:

House Wren

Yellow Warbler

The resident Red-tailed Hawk pair at one of their favorite perches:

Red-tailed Hawks (female on left)

I still can’t see any young in the nest, but based on the hawks’ behavior, I’m pretty sure young are there.

A little later in the morning, we went mountain biking at Bear Creek Lake Park.  On the way there, we saw a Cooper’s Hawk at the nest we thought they’d abandoned.  As my better half said, maybe one came back for the furniture.

At Bear Creek Lake Park, we saw a Lark Sparrow on the ascent up Mt. Carbon (east side).   We also saw a White-crowned Sparrow near where the wild plums are in bloom on the Mt. Carbon Loop, south side (and just east of there we saw half a dozen mule deer).  The Great Horned Owl was sitting high in her nest along the Cottonwood Trail.  As we were riding along the single track that hugs Morrison, we saw at least a hundred sparrows–what species, I don’t know.  The other thing I noticed was two new bat houses that have been installed along Bear Creek.  One is along the Cottonwood Trail (on the south side of the creek) and one is along the Mt. Carbon Loop (on the north side of the creek)

Early this afternoon, I spotted a female Broad-tailed Hummingbird at the feeder on our deck–first female of the year!

Later in the afternoon I went back into the greenbelt and saw the first Mallard ducklings (ten!) of the year.  Just as I noted last year with the first brood of the year (thirteen ducklings), a male Mallard was keeping close to the female and the ducklings, and he would chase away other males that got too close.

Mallard and ducklings

Mallard pair and ducklings with

Ducklings clearing a log:

Mallard ducklings

May 7, 2021

Having taken the entire day off work, I kicked off the morning by going to the bird banding station at the Audubon Center.  Meredith banded two first-of-season birds:  a Gray Catbird and a Yellow-breasted Chat.  The Gray Catbird was most perturbed:

Meredith McBurney with Gray Catbird

The Yellow-breasted Chat wasn’t much happier:

Yellow-breasted Chat

A Yellow Warbler was much calmer.  Here Meredith is taking measurements:

Yellow Warbler

An Audubon-trained Master Naturalist named Barbara was on hand, and she pointed out a few native plants:

Chokecherry

Yellow currant

Wild plum

Afterwards, I went to Chatfield State Park, where I saw several American White Pelicans, three Common Mergansers, three Western Grebes (one is below), a few Mallards, several House Wrens, several Song Sparrows (one is below), many American Robins, and a few Red-winged Blackbirds.  I also heard frogs croaking in small ponds.

Western Grebe

Song Sparrow

After my better half got off work, we walked in the Bear Creek Greenbelt.  There was a lone Blue-winged Teal, but the highlight was seeing the two female Hooded Mergansers, one along the north bank and one along the south.

Hooded Merganser

Hooded Merganser

May 6, 2021

I took the morning off work and enjoyed a two-and-a-half hour walk in the Bear Creek Greenbelt.  I started by heading east.  I saw (and heard!) my first-of-year House Wren in the greenbelt:

House Wren

East of Estes, the Great Horned Owl was snoozing in its usual spot:

Great Horned Owl

At the far eastern edge of the greenbelt at the prairie dog field I saw a Say’s Phoebe and this Killdeer:

Killdeer

Along the northern edge with Yale, I saw (and heard!) three  Broad-tailed Hummingbirds, all males.

Broad-tailed Hummingbird at a wild plum flower

Broad-tailed Hummingbird at a wild plum flower

Next to the pond by Stone House a pair of Canada Geese tended to three goslings:

Canada Geese

Above and around the pond Barn Swallows were out in great numbers, Cliff Swallows in somewhat smaller numbers.

West of Estes, the resident pair of Red-tailed Hawks were out, but never far from the nest.

Red-tailed Hawk (female)

Here’s a Black-capped Chickadee working on a cavity nest in a tree along Bear Creek:

Black-capped Chickadee

In the evening I went on a walk at Ken Caryl guided by David Suddjian.  Target bird:  Common Poorwills.  We heard three of them, and we saw several mule deer.